Annual theme of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in 2021

Modernism and its aesthetics are closely linked to images of power lines, airplanes, railroad bridges, and highways. While these infrastructure elements are given center stage as models of a new built environment in a variety of manifestos of modern architecture, their functional logics, their structures, resources, and interconnections remain obscure. In this respect, infrastructures constitute the fragile pillars of modernity that become visible and problematic only when there’s a power outage, when a gas pipeline explodes, etc. The relational fabric between infrastructure and modernity, however, is also based on the promise of inclusion, provision, and integration—a double-edged sword given its foundation on the exploitation of resources in the global South under the logic of development, perpetuating the colonial legacy.

Pipelines, highways, and electricity grids convey visions of progress. Far from being neutral, they are embedded in power relations and geopolitical interests. Infrastructures are instrumental in producing global geographies of inequality and segregation. At the same time, a radical rethinking of infrastructures is needed: no longer conceivable as something to be outsourced, infrastructures need to be as understood as an interconnected system of material cycles in which both human and non-human actors are involved on an equal footing.

What are the specific contributions that the field of design studies has to offer to a critical examination of these complex infrastructural interconnections which make everyday life in the 21st century so vulnerable? What imaginaries of a different nature-culture can emerge from ecologically oriented design research on infrastructure? What new forms of post-disciplinary collaborations and collective design activities with varied human and non-human actors are emerging in the field of infrastructure design?

The event will be conducted as a Zoom webinar. To register, click here: 

The workshop “Metabolic Pathways – Suspended Infrastructures" with Clemens Winkler will take place as a closed session on Thursday, 17 June from 12:00 to 13:00; the presentation of the workshop results at 18:30 will be open to the public. To participate in the closed session, an additional registration is required:

Please mined that the number of participants is limited to 23.